RYAN Gauld is still cleaning his Dundee United team-mates’ boots but Willo Flood reckons it might not be long before the youngster proves that few in the game are worthy of lacing his.
The midfielder is 17 but Flood believes he has the ability to shine in today’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic at Hampden. “Yeah, he’s good to watch and that’s what fans want to see. He’s a David Silva-type player with a great attitude as well. That makes a big difference with our young lads – they have a good attitude to match their ability. They were doing jobs the other day and I said, ‘You don’t be doing boots, we’ve a big game on Sunday!’ They’re just good lads. They didn’t even give it a second thought.”
But that work ethic has served them well, particularly when complemented with such burgeoning talent. With Johnny Russell ruled out with injury, there has been greater onus on boys such as Gauld, pictured right. “The big pitch at Hampden will suit him, but I think he could play in a phone box,” says Flood. “He’s that good. He has that awareness about him, his touch is always close and he sees things before other people even think about them. When you’re a young lad coming into the first team you tend to be a bit nervous at the start, but our boys have taken it well. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, whether it be Aberdeen at home or Celtic at Hampden, I don’t think it will bother them one bit.”
The last time Flood made it to Hampden with United was the 2009 League Cup semi-final and he would like a happier outcome this time. That day it went to penalties, with Celtic winning 11-10, and Flood’s miss proved costly. “We played well,” he says. “At the penalties, I took the first one, then Jon Daly took the second and the two of us were at the halfway line, saying, ‘Thank God that’s us finished.’ Then it went seven each, eight each, nine each, and we started saying, ‘I think it’s coming back around to us.’ Unfortunately it did and I missed. It’s safe to say I won’t be taking a penalty on Sunday.”